Do Facial Exercises Really Help Us Look Younger?

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Guest Blogger: Elise Marquam-Jahns

It happened in my late 30’s. I don’t exactly remember the year, but I remember the place: our upstairs bathroom. I woke up at my normal weekday time of 5:30 on a dark, below zero, January morning and padded my way to the bathroom. Even though I was bleary-eyed when I switched on the light, I stopped in my tracks. What had happened overnight?

Somehow in a seven hour period of time my eyelids had seemingly become crepey in places and somewhat hooded. Certainly this couldn’t have happened overnight . . . or could it? Or, had I just been in denial on previous mornings when I looked in that mirror. Whether I’d been in denial or not, I could no longer refute the evidence before my eyes (and around my eyes!) that January morning.

A couple of weeks later, my best friend Joyce and I were enjoying a leisurely Saturday afternoon browse through one of those charming little neighborhood stores featuring jewelry, scarves, books, and clothing when I spotted it: a facial exercise book and an accompanying VHS tape (yes, an actual VHS tape . . . this was, after all, a while ago). Needless to say, after the recent bathroom experience, the book and tape soon made their way into my hands, my car, and my house. Joyce and I were unable to resist the
opportunity to try out some of the exercises when we sat down in our family room. We couldn’t help giggle as we tried out a few of the exercises and vowed we’d give them a whirl.

But a funny thing called life intervened. Long commutes, health issues of my oldest daughter, part-time teaching in addition to my 9-5 job and an unexpected blessing of another daughter when I was 45 consumed my time and the facial exercise book just kept gathering dust on one of our basement bookshelves.

Somewhere along the line, the book didn’t make it through the packing “cut” when we were preparing to move, but I could never quite let go of that VHS tape. When the bathroom mirror kept reminding me of the continuing birthdays and accompanying changes, I often wondered if I should pull out that tape and give those exercises another try. After all, it did seem to make sense that if we benefitted from exercising muscles in our bodies, why wouldn’t we benefit from exercising muscles in our face? But sometime in the past year, I happened to see several articles—one by a dermatologist and one by a plastic surgeon—that categorically stated that facial exercises simply didn’t work.

In January of 2018, I ran across an article by Marla Paul in Northwestern Now [1] about a study done at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine which outlined the findings of the first scientific study to test the premise that facial exercise could improve appearance. The study was published in the January 3, 2018 edition of JAMA Dermatology. [2] The study participants were middle-aged women 40-65 years old who underwent two sets of face-to-face 90-minute training sessions from a facial exercise instructor. At home, they continued to do these exercises for a total of 20 weeks. They did the 32 distinct facial
exercises daily for 30 minutes the first 8 weeks and from week 9 to 20, they did the same exercises for 30 minutes on an every other day basis. The results? Raters noted almost a three year decrease in age appearance over a 20 week period. And, the participants in the study indicated that they were highly satisfied with the results and noticed improvement on nearly all the facial areas that were rated.

After reading this article, I didn’t dust off the VHS tape, but I did “google” “facial exercises” and found a quick and easy six exercise video done for Marie Claire [3].

 

I just couldn’t resist giving these facial exercises a try. Even though I just did these six exercises nightly for about five minutes for two months, I did notice a positive change in my eyelid area. However, the nasal/labial area (that area from nose to mouth) and my neck resisted change. But hey, the years have really done a number on those areas so I’m not surprised that just a few minutes a night for a couple of months didn’t seem to reverse the damage. But seeing the results in my eye area, I’m definitely motivated to try the actual exercises that were used in the study that were developed and provided by Gary Sikorski of Happy Face Yoga [4]. I’ll let you know what happens in a future article.

 

About The Author:

Elise Marquam-Jahns is an author, speaker, radio host and makeup artist. As a makeup artist, her passion is helping women 45+ get their glow back. In addition to her work as a makeup artist for a major cosmetics line, she founded Boomer and Beyond Beauty which offers makeup consultations, applications, classes and makeup parties. As host of Normandale Community College’s monthly Learning Well Blog Talk Radio Show, she interviews a wide cross section of health and wellness experts.

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